Towards a more sustainable, fair and trusted tourism ecosystem: UIPI's Position on EC short-term rental initiative
Short-term accommodation rental (‘STR’) is a fast-growing sector that creates opportunities for businesses and citizens. Yet, these new opportunities are not without effect on the local housing market, direct neighbourhood, local communities and co-owners. UIPI considers it important that any EU initiative on the matter is focused on tackling these problems and proposing new solutions in order to make the STR framework more harmonised, clear and transparent.
End of 2021, the European Commission has launched a consultation phase on the Tourist services – short-term rental initiative, with the aim to propose a regulation in early 2022 to better regulate short-term accommodation rental (‘STR’) services.
The initiative is considering mainly the issue of access of public authorities to data on STRs and market access conditions for STR players. As data are critical to understand the development of the sector and enact adapted policies and legislation, the initiative proposes to assess the type of data that would be relevant and necessary for public authorities (e.g. data on who rents out what and how often) as well as the different means to generate and ensure a proper access to such data, in compliance with data protection legislation. For instance, it will explore the added value of registration obligations, as well as several data sharing options and/or transparency requirements between platforms and public authorities.
Regarding market access conditions, STR market players (e.g. hosts, management and maintenance service providers and online platforms) should benefit from clear market access conditions across the EU. To this end, the initiative could clarify and streamline the rules and requirements public authorities can impose on hosts and online platforms. For instance, to ensure the proportionality of STR requirements, the initiative could explore the possibility and the ways to differentiate between hosts renting out occasionally, and those renting out in a more professional capacity.
In its contribution to the consultation process, UIPI Secretariat underlined that the EU framework should mainly consist in guidelines, templates suggestions and collection of best practices. In this sense, we expressed our overall support for national mandatory registration systems, whereby STR providers would be obliged to register their activity and ensure compliance with national requirements and allow all STR actors to operate in full transparency and security.
Moreover, we promote the approach that online platforms should only display registered STRs and should be required to take reasonable steps to verify the validity of the registration number provided by the STR host, so that the STR market is composed by actors who have all the necessary requirements to operate in this sector. controls are necessary to tackle unlawful conducts such as the ones of tenants subletting their accommodation and advertising it on such platforms without the owner’s express permission.
We also encourage the Commission’s intention to clarify the applicable legal framework for both peers and professional service providers and to ensure proportionally differentiated regulatory approaches, while keeping some level of flexibility for Member States. Lastly, the SRT initiative should have a complementary approach on the data issue, as any further data request should be mandated by law and should be focused on information necessary for the specific purpose at stake.
The consultation period closed in December 2021 and the issuing of the proposal is planned for the first quarter 2022. UIPI will continue monitoring the developments of the file and participating to the discussions at the EU level.